Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lammys and Awards and Anne Boleyn in "Third"

Ahhh, what a difference a year makes. About this time last year, I was glued to my computer (or constantly checking my phone) to see if I was a Lammy finalist. I had especially high hopes for "Strange Bedfellows," which had already won several awards, particularly a Rainbow Award for one of the top five lesbian books of the year. Come to find out, the Lammy announcement would be delayed a few days. Eeek! More waiting.

The result?

I wasn't a finalist for anything. But of course! ;-)

What happens this year? Yesterday, I check my email. I see a message from the Lambda Literary Foundation announcing its finalists. A vague something stirs in my mind: "Oh yeeeah, wow! That time already? I did enter 'Third,' so hmm, let's see. Well, they would've emailed me directly if I would've won, right?" I almost deleted the email (yes!! dummy me almost deleted it), but in the end, something propelled me to open it. Lots of categories! I searched for "lesbian paranormal romance." Didn't find it. Realized: "Oops! That's for the GCLS. In the Lammys, 'Third' is in lesbian romance."

So! I searched for lesbian romance. Finally found it. Went down the list. Nope, nope, nope, nope (didn't notice the pattern of titles in alphabetical order--hey it was early in the morning) . No "Third." Got to the very last title:

10.  Third, Q. Kelly, Ride the Rainbow Books

I stared. I thought: "No way." I can't have woken up this morning and then alla sudden, with no warning, be a Lammy finalist. But sure enough, I was. I ran shrieking to my wife, who was home from school because of a snow day. You know, one of these snow days in which the roads are clear and very little snow fell.. (Most of her snow days this year have been that type! ;-) )

Me: "Third" is in the Lammy finals! *lots of wooohooooing at my end*

Wife: ????

Me: The Lammys! The awards! The ones that are like the Oscars of GBLT lit. Remember I entered "Third"--the only book I entered this year. I guess they announced finalists today! [Last year, my wife no doubt got sick of the hundred times I bemoaned: "When will they announce the finalists already?"]

Wife: Oh! Oh! *news settling in, as it had to for me also* Wow. *woohooing on her end too*

Sooo that's my Lammys story for right now. I love New York City. Only been there once and for a very brief time a few years ago (most of a Saturday, overnight, and then most of a Sunday). My wife and I always planned to return, and now we have our chance. I can write off most of this on taxes, too.


A bit on "Third" and awards programs. I admit I have mixed feelings on pretty much any awards ceremony. Some seem incredibly incestuous and political. Some seem to allow stinkers to final and win, while others seem to pass over wonderful, deserving works. But that's art. Art is subjective. Overall, I like awards. (Let me note here I am biased because I grew up winning awards. My parents entered me every year, and so I like being recognized by awards. I went indie in August 2011, and some people said they would not buy my stuff. They automatically assumed my stuff was bad because I was indie. Winning several awards among a veritable sea of books with publishers minimized the complaints. These days--early 2013--being indie is much more acceptable/popular.)

Awards are an issue that ignites lots of passion from some people, and I understand all sides. Bottom line, though, I think there's a place for awards.

If nothing else, awards help books find more buyers. Some books don't sell well, but they score big in awards. Readers hear about these books, and well-deserving books get a wider audience. Authors work long and hard and put up with scathing reviews and personal attacks all the time. People who are not authors may have a hard time understanding this. Awards are one way to recognize authors' hard work. Sales are another way, sure.

Competition is another motivator. Awards, I would expect, motivate some authors to write better than they would otherwise.

As for awards fees, they help pay for the awards. Doesn't mean I LIKE them. My wallet cries and reaches for the Kleenex every time I enter an award, but I understand that in most cases, fees are necessary.


Okay, so that bit above was really on awards programs. Now enough about me and awards. Let's get to what really matters-- da book. I knew before starting on "Third" that it would be a risk. It combines history, sci fi, Anne Boleyn, a married lesbian couple, Benjamin Franklin and polyamory. Eeek! Polyamory! I hoped in spite of all this, sales would be good. They weren't. Oh, "Third" didn't bomb. In fact, it probably sold (and sells) the same or better than, say, an "average" lesfic book. (And who knows, someday its sales could rocket off.) It basically stirred up two types of responses, with a smallish middle ground. Response 1: "I don't want to read about polyamory. I'm not reading 'Third.' " Response 2: "Oooh! Lesbian sci-fi! Oh! Polyamory, what a cool concept. I read 'Third' and loved it. It's my absolute favorite."  Response 3: [the middle-ground response] "The idea of polyamory put me off, but I  love your books, so I gave 'Third' a chance and ended up enjoying it way  more than I thought I would. Great book!"

"Third" did bring me a new base of readers (the Response 2 readers), and it remains to date the mostest favoritest work of mine I've done. Despite the so-so sales, I'm glad I did it. And I am also glad that while I didn't quite get the sales and fan validation, this weird, quirky book is getting recognition via awards programs. It won a Rainbow Award a few months ago, and being a Lammy finalist is in itself an award and a huge honor. (GCLS announces their finalists in a few weeks.)

I'd like to take this opportunity to toast Anne Boleyn, who is probably my favorite character of all my works and a fascinating, fascinating woman. I put a rather unique historical spin on a real woman, and who knows, it might be true. Nothing out there says it can't be true, right? (For Anne's sake, though--the sake of the REAL Anne who didn't get a happy ending in "Third," I do hope it wasn't true that she was a lesbian in real life.)

Anyway, enough blathering. Gotta put this blog post to rest and hit the gym!

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